Introduction

We recently took a look at several performance CPUs last week - and we were incredibly impressed by the amount of interest it spawned. Our little Linux section has been making waves left and right and we are quickly establishing ourselves as the premier Linux hardware journal. We have been working very diligently on a GPU roundup to top all GPU roundups in the Linux world. It has taken us a little over 3 weeks from start to finish, but we think that the final product is well worth it.

We get dozens of emails a day from readers asking which video card is right for them, particularly if they are going to give Linux a shot. It may be due to the circles that we run in, but the sheer interest for Linux among our peers seems to have peaked 100-fold what it was last year. Simple, clean distros like SuSE, Fedora Core and Mandrake have done wonders to the Windows migration crowd - and then there is the whole Gentoo sensation as well. Linux is definitely growing, but does it really have a competitive edge in any gaming or graphics intensive application?

The focus of this analysis is not to fire up glxgears, and see which program runs it faster. Instead, we want to look at some common graphics intensive applications for Linux and determine how well they run, particularly in relation to their Windows counterparts. We are interested in more than just the benchmark results - getting there is half the fun, and coincidentally, half the weighting for a purchase decision for many of us. Invariably, we will draw some conclusions from one GPU family to another out of the eleven cards that we have chosen to compare today.

When it comes to our quantitative data, we aren't just looking at average frames per second and declaring a winner. We have spent weeks working on a graphics benchmark utility specifically designed for AnandTech, which we are open sourcing and releasing to the world today as well.

Our New Benchmark: FrameGetter
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  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    Ziast: Fixed.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • Ziast - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    Nice article except for this glaring mistake:

    "All in all, just getting the ATI drivers on something that isn't Red Hat feels like way too much work for basic OpenGL support. Keep in mind that we even run SuSE, a Red Hat derivative."

    SuSe Linux was first released in 1993. Red Hat Linux was not released until 1994. Just because SuSe uses RPM doesn't mean it's a Red Hat derivative.
    Reply
  • Papineau - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    Two RFEs, one for the article, the other for FG.

    For the article: Would it be possible to graph the ratio of FPS from one card to the other one over time? That would help to know if a card is "always 1.5 times faster than the other", or "sometimes even, sometimes faster, usually slower than the other".

    For FG: Why modify the executable file? Why not use LD_PRELOAD/LD_LIBRARY_PATH to load the lib you want to insert (libFG), and then have it call the system's libGL and libSDL? It seems a bit "bad practice" to modify the benchmarked executable.
    Reply
  • Term - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    #6

    I get more FPS with Linux in both Quake1(World) and Quake3 (single and dual cpu) then with Windows2000. Thow I suspect that if you have a newer card then you might not, due to the drivers.
    Reply
  • Cygni - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    When 64bit Windows finally ships, and the entire Athlon64 and Opteron user base switches over, including many gamers, the pressure will be on for ATI, and judging by how good their driver team has been in the 32bit Win sector these last few months, hopefully they can rise to the challenge.

    As far as Linux drivers for speed? I hate to break the news to alot of people, but gaming on Linux is a HUGE chore with little payoff. Ive spent HOURS with clean installs of Mandrake to play games I already have for Windows... only to, of course, see that they are slower than their windows counterpart. Linux is great for alot of stuff, and ive always got a computer somewhere running Mandrake 9.1... but it just ISNT for gaming right now, which I think the review helped illustrate nicely.
    Reply
  • ViRGE - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    I wouldn't be too excited about ATI's 64bit Linux plans, let alone even their 64bit Windows plans. Their only 64bit drivers are over 4 months old, and don't support any of the X-series of cards, which really limits their usefulness. ATI has said before that they may not ship another build until some time in 2005. Reply
  • raylpc - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    "we received some information from ATI about some upcoming Linux announcements which they are working on"

    I remember ATi is working on some "plan", so the actual driver release could be way after. Well, nvidia is probably the next card I'm going to get.
    Reply
  • Saist - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    my first thought was:

    how in the world can an Geforce FX MATCH and BEAT the R300 architecture. I guess if you ever wanted empirical proof that ATi has ignored Linux, this is it.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    Yep, the SuSE 9.2 folder is really fresh and of course probably will work ok when 9.2 comes out.

    What do you mean when you say SuSE is a Red Hat derivative? Is that because of RPM?

    Did SATA work on SuSE 9.1 for the nforce3 board?

    Guess the only thing I can say is I run a Radeon 9200 with the built in drivers in SuSE 9.1 with no problem, but haven't tested a game with it yet...

    What sucks in Linux? Trying to change those wonderful settings for your x86config to use those spiffy AA/AF settings. Gettings real games to work. I wonder if SuSE will even use the newer xfree86 version, or what they will switch to as well.

    Sigh, need to keep good old win2k for such gaming purposes...
    Reply
  • gleb42 - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    Nice article, but

    "we want to look at some common graphics intensive applications for Linux and determine how well they run, particularly in relation to their Windows counterparts."

    where exactly is this windows/linux comparison. I only found a couple of words on the Wine section (and wine has it's own overhead, so that's not entirely fair comparison...)


    Reply

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